HUNDREDS of businesses from across Suffolk and beyond which had trade stands at this year’s Suffolk Show are to be offered a 30% refund following the cancellation of the event’s second day due to high winds.

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The move follows a special meeting of the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s executive board and show committee which unanimously agreed to offer the partial refund as an act of good will, to encourage exhibitors to continuing supporting the annual showpiece event.

Combined with other losses resulting from the cancellation, the pay-out to trade stand holders is likely leave the association facing a loss on this year’s show of at least £500,000.

However, it says this will be funded out of its reserves, and it has pledged not to seek to recoup the loss by cutting back on investment in next year’s show.

SAA by-laws, which exhibitors accept as a condition of booking, state that the association will not be liable for any losses in the event of the show being abandoned for reasons beyond its control, and that exhibitors are responsible for their own insurance in respect of all risks.

However, Chris Bushby, the SAA’s executive director, said it would “not be in the spirit” of the association for it to give nothing back to trade stand holders simply because it was not obliged to. “It is vital that we do not lose goodwill towards us going forward and we take a long-term view to bear the short-term pain of the situation in order not to lose this support,” he said.

Letters offering the refund will be received by exhibitors from today and they will have until the end of July to submit written applications. Any who choose to forego a claim will be recognised for their support in the SAA’s annual report and next year’s show catalogue.

In addition to the refund, trade stand prices for next year’s show will be held for those who exhibited this year and who book for 2013 by the end of November.

More than 80% of the 700-plus livestock and equine classes were completed despite the weather, but exhibitors will be reimbursed their entry fees for those classes not judged.

The outcome for sponsors of the show will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Refunds for admission tickets, details of which were posted on the show website on the day of the cancellation, are progressing. Members and vice presidents of the association, whose subscriptions include show admission, are also being offered refunds equivalent to the price of an advance purchase ticket.

“The association has agreed to accept the loss this year, and cover it from endowment reserves in order to draw a line under this year’s show,” said Mr Bushby.

“We want to reasure people that whatever has happened this year not not adversely affect future shows. We are already planning for 2014 and there will be no cut back in the budget.”

He added: “There is not question of us trying to claw back any of our substantial losses by making cutbacks for the future.

“Our task now as a team is to tack the enormity of this refund as quickly and efficiently and sympathetically as we can so we can move on to planning another fanstatic show for May 29 and 30 next year.”

Mr Bushby also expressed the hope that the cancellation of day two would not overshadow a highly success first day for the show. The attendance on day one was thought to have been between 40,000 and 50,000, and feed feedback from trade stand holders indicated that most had enjoyed a good level of business, he added.

Exhibitors contacted by the EADT said they believed the offer from the associatioin was generous, although some declined to comment until they had received details.

However, Neal Sands, managing director of Sands Agricultural Machinery, said: “I will not be writing back to the association wanting my money back. It was an act of God, just one of those things. If I get a letter, it will be going in the bin.”

To see previous reports on the cancellation of the show, click on the link at the top of this story.

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